Awash in Talent welcomes you to Providence, Rhode Island, where ten percent of the population can move objects telekinetically, set fires with their minds (or extreme emotions), or observe your thoughts as if they were a TV series. Although this Providence is a fantasy, it’s based on the real capital of Rhode Island, a place I love for all its uniqueness.
You couldn’t experience Providence without Rhode Island cuisine. To start with some of the lingo, Rhode Islanders call milkshakes “cabinets” and pronounce quahog (a local clam; try it stuffed) as if it were spelled “co-hog.” They drink coffee milk made with a special syrup that’s sold right next to Hershey’s, the bread comes from Portugal and is lightly sweet, and some of their best pizza comes from bakeries!
Awash in Talent is made up of three stories, and the one that pays most attention to food is told from the point of view of native Rhode Islander Kelly. She’s recently and unpleasantly discovered that she’s pyrokinetic, and has been sent to an obligatory school to control her Talent for making flames with her mind. In spite of all her worries, Kelly has time to enjoy cold and hot snacks at the outdoor festival WaterFire:
At the bridges, there were a couple of vendor stands. One had soft drinks and lemonade ice, which were probably a big hit during the summer, but didn’t really appeal now. My hands were frozen and my nose was starting to run.
“Want anything?” Brian asked.
“I didn’t bring any money,” I said.
“I did,” he said with that sweet smile.
The ice vendor also had t-shirts, bags, hats, and prints of WaterFire, and I desperately wanted to own one of those items with the logo (Is it water? Is it fire?), but I couldn’t let him buy something for me. It didn’t seem right.
“Okay, but I’m getting some Red Hots.”
I looked, and the other vendor was all about fire. Hot chocolate, jalapeños, Firebrand chili, and Red Hot candies. His stall was pretty popular, and we waited in line for I don’t know how long. I watched the people, listened to the eclectic mix of music, and inhaled the fragrant smoke that wafted over from the river. All while holding Brian’s hand, by the way.
Kelly also has time to delight in a magnificent Thanksgiving spread at her boyfriend’s house:
I have no idea how they were planning to fit more food anywhere, but they did. When it was dinner time, at about four, everyone gathered in the dining room. Through the crush of people—there must have been thirty of us all told—I could see the giant turkey, all the fixings you could imagine and some I’d never seen before, and ten—I counted!—kinds of pie for dessert. Imagine the cacophony of sweet, spicy, salty, and meaty aromas.
This scene is based on some large New England holiday gatherings I have sweet memories of. Sure, New Englanders can be hard to get to know. Once you’re in, though, you’re family.
Pick up Awash in Talent if you’d like to live high on the (qua)hog!
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Jessica!
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